Rational Resistance to Skepticism

Dissertation, University of California, Berkeley (2001)

Wai-hung Wong
California State University, Chico
Some epistemologists resist skepticism about the external world even though they admit that it is supported by apparently convincing arguments that they do not see how to refute. I argue that such a seemingly irrational attitude towards skepticism is justified. The justification I offer consists in showing that anyone who accepts skepticism is in a patently irrational position, whereas we do not have to refute skepticism to have some reason to believe that we have knowledge of the world. Although this does not show that skepticism is false, it does show that we can reasonably ignore skepticism even when we are engaging in epistemological investigations. My arguments require an examination of what it is to accept skepticism, and I argue against the idea that the acceptance of skepticism is rationally insulated from our everyday convictions. Having argued that there is a special irrationality in being a skeptic, I explain why most philosophers do not see it that way. In explaining that, I offer an account of what it is to be in a skeptical frame of mind and to be in a sense detached from one's own beliefs
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